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SLO County moves forward with COVID-19 vaccinations despite supply concerns 

Despite a slowdown in COVID-19 vaccine supply and the recent shelving of 4,400 doses due to concerns about allergic reactions, San Luis Obispo County Public Health says it's moving forward on its vaccination plan—scheduling about 4,000 appointments per week, with plans to open three clinics in the county.

Vaccine bottlenecks across the state are impacting SLO County. Public Health has received fewer doses than expected in recent weeks and, coupled with a Jan. 17 directive to pause administration on one lot of Moderna vaccine due to its higher than normal rate of allergic reactions, SLO County is beginning to postpone some second dose appointments in favor of maximizing first dose appointments.

click to enlarge VACCINATE SLO County is scheduling about 4,000 appointments per week for COVID-19 vaccinations, as of Jan. 20. - FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • File Photo By Jayson Mellom
  • VACCINATE SLO County is scheduling about 4,000 appointments per week for COVID-19 vaccinations, as of Jan. 20.

County officials say that they are following new guidance that says delaying second doses a few weeks will not impact the effectiveness of the vaccine.

"We have recently received guidance from the state that this kind of dose conversion is allowed and they recommend up to 50 percent of second doses be converted to first doses if needed," county Public Health spokesperson Michelle Shoresman told New Times.

SLO County has opened its vaccination appointments to any local resident over age 75, as well as front-line health care workers, about 11,000 of whom are already vaccinated. On Jan. 15, the county filled its roughly 4,000 appointments slots for the week of Jan. 18 within a few hours.

County and city leaders are currently working to set up three public vaccination clinics: one at Cuesta College, one at the Paso Robles Event Center, and another in Arroyo Grande. In a vaccine update at the SLO City Council meeting on Jan. 19, Fire Chief Keith Aggson said he expects all three clinics to be up and running and administering 400 to 450 doses per day by Jan. 25.

What's less clear to local officials is how much vaccine SLO County will get from the state each week.

"I sure wish I had that answer for you," Aggson told SLO City Council members. "It's really varied. ... What they get is what they get. This is very challenging because it makes it so we have to go to week-to-week scheduling."

Shoresman with Public Health said that SLO County hopes to eventually run its vaccine clinics seven days per week (instead of five) but it doesn't have the vaccine supply to do that yet.

"We do hope to get to that point," she said. "Additionally, though, we also hope that will be getting more health care provider types enrolled to receive and administer vaccines so that people can begin going to the places where they are used to receiving care to receive vaccines." Δ

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